In their first daytime game on the ice, ASU took down Alaska Anchorage 3-0 on Sunday for their fourth series sweep of the season.
In a season where the Sun Devils have taken down multiple ranked opponents, including then No. 2 Denver, ASU put up one of their best performances all year in a shutout win over the Seawolves.
“It’s not perfect, but we are resilient. Today was really good,” head coach Greg Powers said. “We played really good, clean, hard hockey for most of the game.”
The win extends ASU to a 9-2-1 record on a young season with a team that’s still getting better, especially with the return of big-time player sophomore Ryan Alexander.
Arizona State took control with a goal from Alexander in the first period, his first of the season after working to get more time on the ice following an offseason hip surgery.
“It’s been a rough start to the year, but I tried to keep a positive mindset and try to just believe I could do it,” Alexander said. “Scoring is fun, and it's good that we won too.”
Alexander had 11 goals through 35 games last season in a year defined by injury. Now, an already deep Sun Devils team is reintroducing another big piece of the puzzle that could make an impact for the rest of the season.
“(Alexander) is one of our best players. He had a pretty serious surgery, and so it takes time to get your legs firing,” Powers said. “Tonight, he was back. He popped that goal, he was forechecking, he was playing hard, getting downhill. He’s such a good hockey player.”
Alexander wasn’t the only ASU goal scorer on Sunday, as senior Dylan Jackson would score on a power play in the second period to put Arizona State up 2-0. The goal was Jackson’s fifth during the season and first since his three-goal hat trick just over a week ago in the win over Denver.
Junior goalie TJ Semptimphelter was excellent for the Sun Devils in front of the net with his 21 saves, but on the opposition's side, the game was kept close by freshman goalie Greg Orosz, who played a stellar game for the Seawolves.
Orosz saved 30 shots from ASU’s attack in just his second career start. Despite ASU playing well in the second period, the freshman only gave up one goal and recorded 14 saves in the period. It seemed like ASU had the opportunity to run away with the game, but couldn’t get the puck in the back of the net.
“It was maybe our best period all year, we were that good,” Powers said. “(Orosz) made five probably circus grade-A saves that were really impressive. He held them in it.”
An empty netter from deep in Arizona State’s territory would find the Seawolves’ goal on a clear from graduate student Brandon Tabakin for his first goal of the season.
Tabakin’s goal closed out the game in the third period and displayed the collective team effort and all-around chemistry the Sun Devils are utilizing this season. Powers emphasized last weekend against Denver that their best hockey was ahead of them, and now they may have played their most complete game.
“I think we were all pulling on the same rope tonight,” junior defenseman Cade Alami said. “Overall, I think everyone was dialed in from puck drop and I thought we did well.”
ASU will welcome No. 7 Providence next week at home at 7 p.m. as they try to keep up the impressive level of play to start their 2023-24 season.
Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.